Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: ESRC responsive mode: secondary data analysis round one

Apply for funding to support research that exploits existing data resources for social and economic research, created by ESRC or other agencies.

From June 2023, you will apply via the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service, initially in consecutive rounds with closing dates so that as the new system develops applications can be assessed in a batch submitted under the same conditions.

Eligibility and the overall approach to assessment remain the same, but core assessment criteria and application questions will be updated to be more consistent across UKRI councils.

This is a pre-announcement for round one, and information may change.

Who can apply

The Funding Service will offer a simpler and better experience through a funding process which is supported by more consistent and robust policies and guidance. UKRI is updating the individual eligibility policy to make the application process more inclusive and consistent across research council funding opportunities. Anyone previously eligible for funding will continue to be so. Further details of the new policy will be announced in due course.

Before applying for funding, check the following:

The principal investigator for this funding opportunity must be based at an organisation eligible for ESRC funding for the duration of the grant.

International applicants

Co-investigators based in non-UK research organisations can be included in research grant applications. Read our guidance on the international co-investigator policy guidance for details of eligible organisations and costs.

Business, third sector or government body co-investigators

Business, third sector or government body co-investigators based in the UK can also be included on research grant proposals. Read our guidance on the including co-investigators from business, third sector or government bodies for details of eligible organisations and costs.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at ESRC.

What we're looking for

About ESRC responsive mode: secondary data analysis, round one

This funding opportunity forms part of ESRC’s open funding opportunities, known as responsive mode. These opportunities run on a repeating cycle of rounds: typically three per year.

Round one of responsive mode: secondary data analysis will close on 28 September 2023. Round two will open on 29 September 2023.


This funding opportunity supports research that exploits existing data resources for social and economic research. You have considerable flexibility to focus on any subject area or topic providing that it falls within ESRC’s remit. Proposed research is not required to use ESRC-funded data resources, though this is encouraged.

Related to this, this funding opportunity aims to develop the capacity and skills of social sciences communities in using large and complex secondary data resources. ESRC encourages partnerships with non-academic stakeholders to ensure generation of high impact, policy and practitioner-relevant research.

Proposals can draw from the wider sciences, but the social sciences must represent more than 50% of the research focus and effort. Here is a full list of acceptable ESRC research areas.

Ambitious and novel research proposals addressing new concepts and techniques are encouraged, as are those with the potential for significant scientific or societal and economic impact. Fresh ideas from new researchers are also encouraged, and proposals are welcomed from early career researchers.


The duration of this award is up to two years (24 months).

Funding available

The full economic cost of your project must not exceed £300,000.

ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

What we will fund

Funding can support:

  • research projects that use secondary data from at least one existing UK or international data resource
  • methodological development
  • researchers at different career stages who wish to develop their skills in using secondary data

What we will not fund

Applications cannot be accepted under this funding opportunity for:

  • primary data collection
  • unspecified research work
  • research already carried out
  • writing up previous research
  • literature surveys
  • conference attendance, other than within an award
  • travel for general study
  • expeditions
  • requests to hold conferences, workshops or seminars
  • preparation of books and publications
  • primarily for the preparation and production of materials such as curriculum materials and software development

Associated studentships cannot be funded under this funding opportunity.

How to apply

UKRI Funding Service

We are running this funding opportunity on the UKRI Funding Service. You cannot apply for this opportunity on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system. Applications begun on Je-S will not be transferred to the Funding Service.

If you have not used the Funding Service before, the first step is to create an account. You will be able to do this as soon as the full funding opportunity is published in June 2023.

Research offices that have not already received an invitation to open an account should email

Applications will not be transferable between rounds.

Applications from more than one research organisation

Collaborative applications should be prepared and submitted by the lead research organisation through a single application on the Funding Service. The content of the application should still be co-created with input from all investigators, and project partners, and should represent the proposed work of the entire consortia. There can only be one named applicant identified as principal investigator or project lead on the application.


During the initial phases of the Funding Service, the system will continue to develop in response to internal and external user needs. Opening in rounds means we will be able to accommodate system developments and assess applications in a batch submitted under the same conditions.

The closing date for round one of ESRC responsive mode: secondary data analysis on the Funding Service will be 28 September 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

ESRC must receive your application by this time. You should ensure that you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place. Any proposals not submitted by this date will remain visible in your Funding Service account but cannot be transferred to another funding opportunity or to a future round of this secondary data analysis funding opportunity. If you decide to apply for a future ESRC responsive mode: secondary data analysis round, the proposal will have to be re-entered.

Round two of ESRC responsive mode: secondary data analysis on the Funding Service will open on 29 September 2023.

UKRI Funding Service: application section guidance

Further application guidance will be available when the full funding opportunity is published in June 2023. Although interactions between applicants, assessors and UKRI through the Funding Service will be a different experience to the previous system, the overall processes and principles of our responsive mode funding opportunities will remain the same.

We can currently share the following information on the Funding Service application process to allow you to begin to prepare your application


You will be asked to provide a summary in plain English that can be sent to potential reviewers to decide if your application is within their field of expertise. This summary may be published if your application is successful.


You will be asked to select from a list of relevant applicant roles. The definitions of these roles may be different to what you are used to, however guidance will be provided.

Primary discipline classification

You will be asked to identify which primary ESRC discipline your application most closely aligns to.

Core application questions

The application process across UKRI councils is being streamlined by simplifying and standardising the questions we ask applicants to explain their ideas. You will be asked to provide information about:

  • the vision of the project
  • the approach to the project
  • the management of data
  • the capability of the applicant or applicants and the project team to deliver the project
  • the resources requested to do the project
  • the ethical and responsible research and innovation considerations of the project

Further details of the application questions and what assessors are looking for can be found on the UKRI website.

Additional questions

You will also be asked to provide information where relevant to your project including on:

  • project partners information and contributions
  • information on facility access requested, including data infrastructure
  • any animals or human subjects or any specific ethical issues

How we will assess your application

Areas of assessment

Your application will be assessed against criteria that directly relate to the core application questions listed in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Assessment process

The assessment process for this funding opportunity has not significantly changed.

We will assess your application through a process of expert review, primarily drawn from ESRC’s Peer Review College, and assessment by our Grant Assessment Panels.

Applications with an average score of below 4.5 from expert reviewers (on a one to six scale) will normally be rejected without referral to the Grant Assessment Panels and will not be given the opportunity to provide an applicant response.

ESRC will make the final funding decision.

Find out more about the ESRC responsive mode grant assessment process, including the Grant Assessment Panel structure and membership.

Decision notification

We are aiming to release information on the outcomes of round one of this funding opportunity on the Funding Service in spring 2024.

Contact details

Get help with your application

For help and advice on costings and writing your application, please contact your research office in the first instance. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

For questions to ESRC about this secondary data analysis funding opportunity, contact

ESRC aims to respond to enquiries within 10 working days.

For help applying through the Funding Service


The Funding Service team aim to respond to emails within two working days.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm UK time
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm UK time

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback.